A recent study by the NASUWT teaching union suggests that almost half of trainees are dissatisfied with the training they received on dealing with disruptive behaviour and over a third say they are not ready to deal with verbal aggression.
Camilla Jones*, an NQT at an inner-city secondary, recently had an eye-opening experience. "My lesson had finished and I had kept behind one boy to talk about his tardiness when his friend barged through the door," Miss Jones says.
"I immediately walked over and calmly asked the boy to close my door. However, my dulcet tones did not have the required effect."
The boy began to shout aggressively at Miss Jones. "It wasn't the shouting that upset me, it was the way in which he completely ignored me as if I didn't exist," she says. "That was when I realised that my teacher training had not addressed the issue of pupils who have no qualms about threatening teachers.
Discuss and problem-solve
New teachers should consider their desired outcome before responding to a violent situation, says Anna Carlile, lecturer in inclusive education at Goldsmiths, University of London. Is it really necessary to prevent an angry child from leaving the room? Or would it be better in the short term to let them walk out of the door and cool down in the corridor?
"Discuss and problem-solve before trying to directly confront a violent or potentially violent situation - a teacher should first try to ignore a situation, and then to distract perpetrators," says Miss Carlile.
Record the incident
"If this doesn't work, find a way to remove the pupil from the area." Once the situation has calmed down, it is advisable to record the incident and report it to your immediate manager, she advises.
Be aware of school policy
New teachers should familiarise themselves with the law and the school's policy on hands-on touching and restraint tactics. "Reasonable force may only be used if it is commensurate with the potential outcome it is being engaged to prevent," warns solicitor Anita Chopra, an expert in education law.
However, an NQT is more likely to have to deal with the fear of violence than violence itself, concludes Miss Carlile.
Empathy and respect
"If classes are planned and delivered by teachers who respect their pupils and who command respect through an empathetic, fair approach, with content that is relevant and meaningful to pupils and is delivered in a way which is also relevant and engaging, a violent situation probably won't arise," she says.
* Name has been changed
Things to think about
- Familiarise yourself with the law and the school's policy on restraint tactics.
- Discuss and problem-solve before trying to directly confront a violent or potentially violent situation.
- Try to ignore the situation and to distract perpetrators before actually removing the pupil from the classroom.
- Treat the pupils with respect and empathy.
- If you plan your lessons rigorously, violence should not occur.
Resources & advice to help deal with behaviour problems
You can download these resources for free by registering and logging into our sister site TES Resources
Check out the latest behaviour resources and advice from Tom Bennett
Get your questions answered by Tom on the TES Behaviour forum
Check out the TES Resources behaviour collection
Read other behaviour articles on TES New Teachers
For more advice, jobs and support for new teachers subscribe to The TES. View our best offer for new and trainee teachers now.Subscribe